I assume it's wishful thinking that makes everyone say that things slow down at the end of a year. I've been more pressed for time than ever, and have once again fallen behind on what I've already seen, which is bad because there's a lot more on the way.
I did have some thoughts about doing a "best/worst" list for 2011, an idea I dismissed for various reasons, laziness and lack of time among them. But also: the calendar year doesn't really coincide with the performing arts year; there were things I enjoyed even though "good" (let alone "best") would probably be an overly generous assessment; there were things that were very good that I just wasn't in the mood for; there were things that were good but were spoiled by rude audiences or by the on-going plague of director/conductor speeches from the stage; there were things that were memorable mostly for one or two performers. . . . it all started to get very blurry and confusing, and as already noted I had too much else to do (so much party cheese left over to eat! and which leftover crackers should I put which cheese on first?), so I decided anyone interested could just go back over my previous year's entries and come up with an individualized list of what I liked best, bearing in mind that everything hasn't been covered yet since 2011 posts will be continuing into 2012.
I will mention the worst of 2011, though, because it wasn't even close, with no deliberation required, and I need to get my money's worth by figuratively holding this work's head under water until the bubbles stop coming up. Maestro, a drumroll please! The worst thing I saw last year was easily the relentlessly superficial and dishonest Heart of a Soldier. David Gockley has certainly not added much luster to his reputation as a commissioner of new operas during his time here in the Bay Area. When you throw in (or out) the equally worthless Bonesetter's Daughter, you have to hope that someone over War Memorial way is noticing that there's a problem when operas are inspired mostly by marketing opportunities (the large Chinese-American population in the Bay Area, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks).
Well, en avant:
The San Francisco Symphony presents Christian Tetzlaff in the Ligeti Violin Concerto on 6-8 January. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts and the program also includes Liszt's Prometheus and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 1, Winter Daydreams. Then the week after (12-14 January, to be exact), Tilson Thomas conducts Janacek's Sinfonietta and Debussy's Le martyre de Saint Sebastien, with excellent soloists (Karina Gauvin, Sasha Cooke, and Leah Wool) and narration by Frederica von Stade.
Cal Performances presents Susan Graham on 14 January (I have no idea what she's singing, but, you know, it's Susan Graham! Isn't that enough?) and the new-music group the Eco Ensemble on 21 January.
San Francisco Performances continues its awesome vocalist series with Christopher Maltman on 19 January (rescheduled from last year) and Dawn Upshaw on 28 January. [UPDATE, 6 January: Upshaw's recital is being rescheduled for 1 April. Details should be at SFP's site soon.]
Berkeley Rep has extended the run for The Wild Bride until 22 January, which is nice for me, since now I get to see it.
ACT presents Lorenzo Pisoni in his one-man show, Humor Abuse, from 12 January to 5 February.
San Francisco Ballet opens its season with the evening-length Onegin, starting 27 January.
Cutting Ball Theater 's Hidden Classics series continues its Strindbergpalooza on 29 January with a double bill of Miss Julie and A Dream Play.